Mon  June 25, 2007
EDINA, Minn. – Charles W. Lindberg, the last survivor of the six U.S.
Marines who raised the first American flag over Iwo Jima during World War
II, has died. He was 86.
Lindberg died Sunday at Fairview Southdale hospital in the Minneapolis
suburb of Edina, said John Pose, director of the Morris Nilsen Funeral Home
in Richfield, which is handling Lindberg’s funeral.
Lindberg spent decades explaining that it was his patrol, not the one
captured in the famous photograph by Abe Rosenthal, that raised the first
flag over the island.

In the late morning of Feb. 23, 1945, Lindberg fired his flame-thrower into
enemy pillboxes at the base of Mount Suribachi and then joined five other
Marines fighting their way to the top. He was awarded the Silver Star for
"Two of our men found this big, long pipe there," he said in an interview
with The Associated Press in 2003. "We tied the flag to it, took it to the
highest spot we could find and we raised it.
"Down below, the troops started to cheer, the ship’s whistles went off, it
was just something that you would never forget," he said. "It didn’t last
too long, because the enemy started coming out of the caves."
The moment was captured by Sgt. Lou Lowery a photographer from the Corps’
Leatherneck magazine, but three of the six men never saw his photos. They
were among the 5,931 Marines killed on the island.
Lindberg’s patrol was back in combat, crawling through the black volcanic
rock of the island, when a group of five Marines and a Navy hospital
corpsman raised a second, larger flag about four hours later. By Lindberg’s
account, his commander ordered the first flag replaced and safeguarded
because he worried it would be taken by someone as a souvenir.
AP photographer Abe Rosenthal’s photo of the second flag-raising became one
of the most enduring images of the war and the model for the U.S. Marine
Corps memorial in Washington.
Rosenthal always denied accusations that he staged the photo, and he never
claimed it depicted the first raising of a flag over the island.
Lindberg was shot through the arm on March 1 and evacuated. He learned about
the second flag-raising a week later while recovering from the wound, which
earned him a Purple Heart.
After his discharge in January 1946, Lindberg — no relation to Charles
Lindbergh the aviator — went home to Grand Forks, N.D. He moved to
Richfield in 1951 and became an electrician.
No one, he said, believed him when he said he raised the first flag at Iwo
Jima. "I was called a liar," he said.
Official recognition eluded him, too. In 1954, Lindberg was invited to
Washington for the dedication of the Marine memorial; it carried the names
of the second group of flag-raisers, but not the first.
He spent his final years trying to raise awareness of the first
flag-raising, speaking to veterans groups and at schools. He sold
autographed copies of Lowery’s photos through catalogs.
Lindberg was part of a groundbreaking for the Honoring All Veterans memorial
— which include a bronze bust of the war hero — in Richfield on Memorial
Day and had recently been active in various war memorials around the state,
said Travis Gorshe, who organized the Richfield event.
Gorshe, who said he worked with Lindberg on the memorial for the past two
years, said Lindberg has been hospitalized since June 10.
A back room in his neat house was filled with souvenirs of the battle,
including a huge mural based on one of Lowery’s photos. Prints of the photos
were kept handy for visitors, and Lindberg’s Silver Star and Purple Heart
were in little boxes on a side table.
The Minnesota Legislature passed a resolution in Lindberg’s honor in 1995.
His face appears on a huge mural in Long Prairie of the battle for Iwo Jima,
and his likeness is etched into the black granite walls of Soldiers Field in


  1. I met this great Marine at Iwo Jima on the 50th Anniv back in 95. He gave me his card and said, “hey if you ever come to StPaul, look me up.” Well six months later, I’m on recruiting duty and up there flying. I called him up and he came out to Flying Cloud airport for a spin in our Gov’t plane. He had a big grin on his face and told me that this was the first time anyone had ever let him fly the plane. I visited him and his awesome wife while on layovers with my airline up there. Only a six dollar cab ride from the Mall of America. He will be missed.
    Semper fi,

  2. I wanted to learn more about Iwo Jima and watched the movie Flags of Our Fathers. I read the book, by the same name, & it was even better, I couldn’t put it down. Where do we get such awesome Marines? I love them!

  3. Taylor was given a signed picture of Mr. Lindberg by a Marine Sgt. who wanted Taylor to have a part of Marine Corps history. It is a cherished item she has and we will always remember Mr. Lindberg.

  4. And people wonder how the press can twist something into saying what they want it to say…..hmmmmm. My dad always had a problem with them making out the guys from the second flagraising to be heroes.
    We lost alot of good men on Iwo Jima, including my dad’s squad leader and friend, Mike Dupnok. Mike volunteered their squad for all kinds of special things on Guam…which earned Mike a Silver Star and a promotion. The last time Dad saw him was when he stopped by to see how he could help with the problems Dad was having on the line at Iwo. Someone was shooting at Dad every time he popped his head up to use his machinegun. Mike went down the line a ways and Dad played the bait so Mike could pick off the shooter. It worked, but they didn’t know at the time about the tunnel systems on Iwo that kept all the Jap positions supplied with fresh troops. Dad said Mike left saying he’d be back after checking on the rest of his troops, but Dad was wounded shortly thereafter. He found out later that Mike was killed that same day. He says it was a great loss. Dad has ordered memorial bricks through the years, one on Iwo Jima, to honor Mike. He really admired Mike and refers to him as one of the real heroes of the war.

  5. Yes Danny,most tend to forget about IRA HAYES.A MARINE that didn’thave to be.
    Hey PAIN your music is getting better, but how about some DON HO.

  6. i recently purchased a auto photo of charles lindberg. it means a great deal to me. it bothers me though how some people want to have to belittle the second flag raising in order to honor the first and this need not be. As a marine, I am very proud of the marines (and of course sailors) on both occasions. at anytime a sniper could have killed one of those people. Both of those events are something to be very proud of and not one over the other. Semper Fi

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